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Funding available for research and innovation in online teaching

eCampus Ontario has announced a funding call for proposals for research and innovation projects related to online and technology-enabled learning.

This announcement is part of a $1.5 million funding initiative in 2016-2018 aimed at supporting Ontario’s higher education teachers to experiment with innovative pedagogical approaches and technologies, to evaluate the outcomes of the project, and disseminate that learning widely to the benefit of others.

Grants are available to fund research projects or innovation projects in six themes:

  1. Pedagogical approaches;
  2. Quality and evaluation;
  3. Business models, resources, costs, faculty support;
  4. Openness;
  5. Connecting programming and labour market needs; and
  6. Accessibility and digital literacy.

Research projects are eligible for up to $100,000 in funding per project for the 2016/17 and 2017/18 fiscal years, while the innovation projects are eligible for up to $20,000 in funding.

The research projects will focus on outcomes of online and technology enabled teaching and learning, and should seek to identify impacts of innovative pedagogical practices. They are expected to disseminate the lessons learned from the research broadly across the province. Primary and applied research, scholarship, and online teaching strategies are all eligible projects.

The innovation grants will support projects including experimentation and exploration of new technologies for teaching and learning; new approaches to supporting quality learning experiences for students online and at a distance; and proof-of-concept pilots. They are intended to fund smaller demonstration projects, and to disseminate learning from either successes or failures of these projects.

“These grants are very interesting because they are genuinely interested in funding experimentation, which includes the risk of failure, and that’s an entirely acceptable outcome we can all learn from,” said Nick Baker, director of the Office of Open Learning, who is coordinating the University of Windsor’s submissions.

“The provincial government is investing heavily in helping universities and colleges expand their online and technology-enabled learning opportunities, which provides a huge opportunity to do research within the Ontario context and figure out what works and what doesn’t in our environment,” he said. “These grants will help us do that, and will help us identify and disseminate exemplary teaching practices.”

The grants can be used to explore outcomes of both fully online and blended or hybrid technology-enabled teaching, and must be complete by March 31, 2018. Faculty, support staff, administration, and students are all eligible to apply for this funding. Proposals can be individual or collaborative, and can include multiple institutions.

The Office of Open Learning is supporting and coordinating the application process, and will work with anyone interested in developing a proposal. Expressions of interest should be discussed with the Office of Open Learning, with preliminary proposals due by Monday, October 17. All proposals require the approval of the associate vice-president, academic.

For more information, contact Baker in the Office of Open Learning at 519-253-3000, ext. 4925, or by e-mail: nbaker@uwindsor.ca.